Wellbeing & prevention

Good physical and emotional health is key to living a fulfilled life. When someone is struggling to cope, either physically or mentally, it can lead to more serious issues and have a negative impact on their life.

Being well means taking care of our physical, mental and emotional health. In good health, we feel more energetic, happier and can stay independent and live longer.

Sometimes things can have an effect on us in life that cause us to not feel well both physically and mentally and may cause us to act in a certain way that has a negative impact on our wellbeing.

This can particularly be the case for adults at risk of harm. There is lots of support for people in this situation and the information below helps us to recognise the signs of symptoms of abuse, including self-neglect, self-harm and suicide awareness.

Find out more on the East Riding Health and Wellbeing website


Self-neglect is a type of abuse that causes a wide range of behaviour including: neglecting to care for one’s personal hygiene, health or surroundings and includes behaviour such as hoarding.

This type of neglect can be either intentional or non-intentional and can result from any mental or physical illness that has an effect on your physical abilities, energy levels, attention, organisation skills or motivation.

More information on self-neglect on our abuse page

Keith's story: a personal and touching film about hoarding on YouTube

Keith's story: a personal and touching film about hoarding (YouTube)

Self-harm Awareness

Self-harm is when someone deliberately hurts themselves. It can include cutting, burning, hitting or bruising, poisoning, scratching, hair-pulling or overdosing.

Adults who self-harm aren’t usually trying to commit suicide or looking for attention (although self-harming can result in accidental death). Often, it is a way for the person to deal with overwhelming or distressing feelings and emotions. It’s a way of coping.

Some people use self-harm as a way to cope with anxiety, stress and overwhelming emotions. It is often a sign that there is an underlying problem.

Self-harm can be really hard to understand but it is a lot more common than some people think.

The best thing to do is for the person to get help to deal with the underlying issues. Getting the right help is often the key to overcoming or managing self-harm.

Suicide Awareness

Suicide Facts and Figures

  • Each day around 16 people take their life in the UK and Ireland

  • In the UK, men are three times as likely to take their own lives than women

  • In the UK, the highest suicide rate was for men aged 45-49.

Samaritans Suicide Statistics Report 2018 (external website)

If you are feeling suicidal, there are people you can talk to

  • speak to a friend, family member or someone you trust
  • call the Samaritans 24-hour support service on 116 123
  • go to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department and tell the staff how you are feeling
  • contact NHS 111
  • make an urgent appointment to see your GP.

If someone tells you that they are feeling suicidal

  • Stay Calm – It may be uncomfortable listening but try not to let your own emotional response prevent you from hearing what the person is saying and what their body language is telling you. Talking about self-harm and suicide does not increase the risks!

  • Listen – Just being listened to can be a brilliant support and bring great relief to people, particularly if they have never spoken to anyone about their self-harming or suicidal thoughts before. The fact that they have chosen you to talk to means they feel comfortable speaking to you.

  • Take Them Seriously – Do not ignore or dismiss the feelings or behaviours of someone nor see it as attention-seeking or being manipulative. Do not be judgemental

  • Confidentiality – Do not keep concerns to yourself. Helping someone is a wonderful opportunity but it can also be stressful. If you are a professional, share your concerns with your line manager or safeguarding lead they will help you to consider and manage the risk.

Clarify whether or not there are immediate needs for medical attention or urgent help to keep the person safe and respond accordingly. For urgent medical attention call 999, for non-urgent medical help call 111 or the person's own GP.

Make sure you are available for the person for the following few days/weeks. If you are not available make sure they know where to seek support from.

There are some online training resources available for managers, practitioners and people who may know someone who is going through a period in their life where suicidal thoughts are overwhelming them. This training is called Suicide, Let’s Talk.

Mental Capacity and the Mental Capacity Act

Mental capacity is our ability to make decisions about all aspects of our lives. This could be affected permanently or temporarily by an injury, a serious illness or a disability.

The Mental Capacity Act (MCA) (2005) protects those who lack capacity and empowers them to make decisions for themselves wherever possible. It applies to people over the age of 16.

The act explains in legal terms how to assess if someone has capacity to make their own decisions, and, if the person is unable to do this for themselves, how decisions should be made on their behalf.

It covers a wide range of decision making, from very complex decisions such as significant financial matters, medical treatment and wider welfare matters, to simpler decisions like deciding what to eat or what clothing to wear.

More detailed advice about assessing mental capacity and decision making can be found in the Mental Capacity Act Code of Practice (chapters 3, 4 and 5).

Find out more about future planning and Deprivation of Liberty.

Mental Capacity Act 2005

Useful websites

Useful documents

Are you worried that an adult is at risk?
Report a concern
Emergency out-of-hours number
01377 241273